By:  Date: 03/18/2006

“Where’s the money?”

That’s the question Katrina rescuers may be asking tonight during a planned protest at the Genesis Awards, the annual HSUS fete honoring media personalities who have featured animal welfare issues in their work. The protesters want to know what happened to millions of dollars the multinational HSUS raised last summer, supposedly to save animals displaced by the devastating hurricanes in America’s southeast.

HSUS, the consummate promoter of protests, boycotts, petition drives, publicity-grabbing initiatives, and whacked-out laws to end hunting and grant constitutional rights to pigs, now faces attack and insurrection from within its own ranks.

An editorial on the website of the rescue organization, The Kitty Liberation Front, fumes: “HSUS was consistent in asking for donations, even when they left town leaving the rescuing to the other smaller organizations. Don't get tricked by HSUS’ initial presence, because they made sure to monopolize the Katrina area, not allowing anyone to come to rescue, unless these "VOLUNTEERS" were under the HSUS umbrella. These rescuers with HSUS were NOT staff workers, the HSUS staff workers were busier than usual, with brand new state of the art computers, because HSUS' priority was to be able to handle the millions in donations, ..... In fact, taking donations in the mega-millions was HSUS’ biggest and only success in Katrina!”1

The Kitty Liberation Front editorialist comments further: “ People are justified in their anger and I don't think these same people are willing to see AGAIN, HSUS get false credit doing a great job with Katrina, while it was really the volunteers, military and other small organizations that were ignored for being the real rescuers.”2

Disheartened rescuers allege major problems with the HSUS response to Katrina:

  • HSUS shirts and media representatives were “everywhere” at the Lamar-Dixon rescue site, yet organization for animal care was minimal.
  • Microchip scans were not part of the intake protocol, limiting the ability to safeguard animals or return them to their owners in a timely fashion.
  • US Public Health Service and Veterinary Medical Assistance teams streamlined the intake process and vetted animals while HSUS volunteers stood chatting in groups and hampered efforts of some rescue groups to pull dogs from the facility.
  • Throughout the ordeal, HSUS continued to seek money for disaster victims (and does so to this day) by touting its work at the Lamar-Dixon site and its general disaster preparedness plans. Potential donors should note that donation links on the disaster pages of the HSUS website go to a general donation page, not to a specific fund for disaster aid.

Although HSUS has not suffered widespread condemnation within the animal rights movement before, it has long been criticized by outsiders. Charity watchdog groups downgrade HSUS for spending a majority of its budget on fundraising activities and particularly for spending $3.1 million with telemarketers to raise $2.7 million, a practice that appears aimed at getting donor lists rather than helping animals.

Other critics blame HSUS for sensationalizing issues in order to use them for fundraising purposes. Long time pit bull owners hold HSUS responsible for helping to make their dogs the breed of choice for criminals and others who seek out aggressive dogs. They argue that the sensational campaigns against dog fighting led by HSUS in the mid-1980s actually increased dog fighting, expanding it from the backwoods to inner cities and making pit bulls popular with thugs and animal abusers in the process. Twenty years later, dog fighting is flourishing and HSUS has just announced a new campaign against dog fighting, this one led by HSUS employee J.P. Goodwin, a former spokesperson for the Animal Liberation Front.

The Genesis Awards were started by The Ark Trust, an organization that was absorbed by HSUS when the event started generating national attention. The Genesis Awards will be held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Saturday night, March 18. Among the 20 awards, there will be kudos for Larry King Live for programs focusing on cruelty in the Chinese fur industry and the Canadian seal hunt, and for An Unfinished Life, a hackneyed melodrama in which a grizzly bear first maims a man, then returns to haunt his life and the lives of his friends. An edited version of the show will air on Animal Planet on May 6.

Whether or not the protest actually takes place at the Genesis Awards, the amount of resentment building against HSUS because of its handling of Katrina represents a gathering storm within the radical animal rights movement.


1. HSUS Protest: Let us review: The Kitty Liberation Front,

2. Should there be a protest at the Genesis Awards? The Kitty Liberation Front,


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